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Interview with the Interns: Focus on Realism vs. Abstraction
As the first career-based, college preparatory high school internship program of its kind, Trinity High School’s Pre-Professional Internship Program places students in grades 10, 11, and 12 in professional settings one full day each week throughout the school year. Students provide valuable assistance to their corporate mentors at more than 70 Cleveland area facilities, including the Cleveland Clinic, as they build a resume of experiences for college and beyond. The program prepares students for college as it assists them in focusing their career goals and also encourages graduates to begin careers after college in the Northeast Ohio area as it showcases the wide range of available career opportunities. This season, three students from Trinity High School are interning in the curatorial department at the Cleveland Museum of Art, each focusing on a different project in which they design their own "exhibitions." We sat down to talk to them on their individual interests and experiences related to their internships and exhibition projects. Below, Patrick Lucas tells us about her project progress.
In the last blog post, I said “My exhibition project is not yet written in stone for this year. I do know however, it will focus around landscapes.” This statement has changed 180° for two reasons. Firstly, my exhibition project is now written in stone, and secondly, it has nothing to do with landscapes. My mock exhibition is finally and officially titled Evoking Emotion: Realism vs. Abstraction. This show will explore how viewers’ reactions differ between realistic and abstract paintings.
When I was brainstorming ideas in the fall, I was gingerly leaning towards psychology in art. Upon looking it up the subject, I came across a rather degrading article about how modernism is destroying the artistic world. One topic this writer acknowledges is abstract art. Personally, I do not care much for abstract art, but I appreciate it just as much as someone who loves it simply because it is art. Abstract artists put just as much expression into their work as realists. My goal for Evoking Emotion: Realism vs. Abstraction is to prove this article’s thesis wrong by surveying people about their emotional reaction to realistic and abstract paintings.
My show consists of just six works (three pairs of two). Each pair contains one realistic and one abstract painting. One pair for example, is Monkey and the Cat by Abraham Hondius and Number 5, 1950 by Jackson Pollock.
The Monkey and the Cat, probably 1670s. Abraham Hondius (Dutch, c. 1625-1695). Oil on canvas, Framed - h:80.00 w:93.50 d:6.00 cm (h:31 7/16 w:36 3/4 d:2 5/16 inches) Unframed - h:62.20 w:73.70 cm (h:24 7/16 w:29 inches). Gift of The Butkin Foundation 1979.82.
When I look at these two paintings, my mind recognizes a pair based on one general idea, but a larger spectrum of emotion. They both seem to share the theme of chaos, obviously shown through the expression of the cat, Hondius’ depiction of swift motion, and Pollock applying unpredictable, haphazard lines and splotches to his canvas. However, I cannot personally relate to Monkey and the Cat. The painting sparks none of my memories although I admire its fantastic portrayal of form and texture, but Number 5, 1950 reminds me of a common emotional state. Pollock’s work makes me think of a brain full of hectic and irrelevant thoughts, anxiety and stress, and ironically, the inability to pinpoint a source of subject. From here I may think of a specific time in the past I felt this way. This response triggers a relation between Pollock and myself. Through his art, I feel like we understand each other, and I understand very well the expression he may have tried to portray. A communication of expression between the artist and the viewer is primarily the goal of art. If a communication exists, it may be considered a work of art.
Number 5, 1950, 1950. Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956). Oil on canvas, Framed - h:138.00 w:102.00 d:5.00 cm (h:54 5/16 w:40 1/8 d:1 15/16 inches). Unframed - h:136.50 w:99.10 cm (h:53 11/16 w:39 inches). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1980.180. © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
The tone of the article seems to be opinionated, so in order to avoid an opinionated point of view – to stick the facts – I am basing my research on the responses art viewers have specifically for the three pairs of paintings included in Evoking Emotion: Realism vs. Abstraction. My hypothesis for the research and this exhibition is that the abstract paintings will spark a more lenient or wide array of emotions in the viewers than the realistic pieces. The exhibition will showcase these findings with their corresponding paintings, whether they prove my hypothesis or not.